“Spaceship Earth” Faulty Concept

September 1, 2015
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A concept that has become known as “Spaceship Earth” pervades a lot of people’s thinking today.  According to it, planet Earth is the only location in the solar system that is friendly to life as we know it, and we are surrounded by a benevolent nature without which we couldn’t exist.  But actually, there is little benevolent about nature and we survive here only through our own efforts to provide food, clothing, shelter, and anything else that man considers essential to a comfortable life.  We’ve adapted biologically a long time ago to nature’s air and that’s about it.  The rest is struggle..  The point of this is that it would be no different on a foreign planet such as Mars.  We would survive there through our own efforts.  We know how to make air, grow food, provide warmth, manufacture clothing, protect ourselves from radiation.  It’s just a little more difficult to do it there than it is here.  And even that difficulty would decrease as a colony expanded. And locating humans on two or more planets would raise the odds that we would never be wiped out by some natural or man-made disaster.Earth fr space

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When is Someday?

June 4, 2015
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I wonder how many people’s interest in science fiction is being lessened by the fact that no nation seems to be doing anything romantic in space any more.  All we can point to are vague promises like “Someday we’ll go to Mars” –if congress ever lets us.thZ3UEUR18

  My original interest was boosted by the belief that it wouldn’t be long before the fantastic promise of humans traveling to other planets would become reality.  It was fun to imagine and to be told how that might play out.  If Neil DeGrasse Tyson is right when he says that science fiction tales led about two-thirds of the world’s scientists to become scientists, then we may be in trouble.  If real exploration is necessary to light up the imaginations of kids so they’ll read science fiction which in turn motivates them to become scientists, then we’re missing something important for the future by being so lackadaisical about sending people into deep space.

SLS is the Way to Deep Space

May 24, 2015
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Destination: MarsI have been discouraged lately by what seems like almost no movement in our ability to send humans further into space than the moon, and the last visit to there was in the early 70’s. But an article in the June, 2015 Scientific American gives me renewed hope.
When President Barack Obama cancelled the Constellation program, which was supposed to get astronauts to Mars eventually, it looked like the NASA space program had lost all direction, and the Space Launch System (SLS) program which is designed to take its place was criticized as welfare for states and corporations that are home to large NASA contractors.
But the SLS will be able to carry out the President’s asteroid missions as well as giving us Mars capability, and the means to get to Europa in 2.5 years instead of the six it took smaller robot rockets to do it. And it is on time and on budget so far.
I am convinced we need a heavy lifter, not only because using smaller rockets to assemble an interplanetary vehicle in orbit would be awkward, expensive, and highly dangerous. but also because cutting transit time to any planet will allow astronauts to avoid some radiation exposure.
Anyhow, the article in SA lays out other convincing reasons for producing the SLS, not the least of which is that it will be less expensive than the Constellation program would have been, relying as it does on some off-the-shelf hardware (like shuttle main engines), with built-in improvements as they are developed. I can only add to the article that increasing NASA’s budget by a measly one-half per cent of GDP could kick the program into high gear and get us to Mars quicker than the 2030’s. Then I might even live to see it happen.

February 1, 2015
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Taking a gander at one of the outlying objects in the solar system.

Interstellar Travel Answer to failing Earth?

January 24, 2015
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Interesting article below.  The only thing it doesn’t account for is that scientific discoveries occur exponentially and build on each other.  What looks difficult or impossible now might be easy in 20 or 30 years because of some breakthrough that affects many things.  The invention of the computer would be one example of a breakthrough.

Christmas eve, 1968

December 5, 2014
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Nothing was more amazing to me than when we actually launched a rocket that made it all the way to the moon with a human payload.  It was even more thrilling than when we landed on the moon because it was the first time humans had really ventured away from their earthly cocoon.

Sound on – watch on full screen



October 23, 2014
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A new movie due out soon, Interstellar, is supposed to present space travel in a way that will make people sit up and take notice.  Well, we’ll see.

It has to be better than the nauseatingly frequent run of Zombie Apocalypse movies and TV shows, which seem to be mostly just excuses to show people blowing other people away in hundreds of different gruesome ways.IMG_0344  We can look at zombies in the same way that soldiers have to look at the enemy so he can be killed without remorse.



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Extinction Event

October 9, 2014
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“The dinosaurs became extinct because they didn’t have a space program.”–Larry Niven
Does any more need to be said?

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Space Program As Important As Any Poverty Programs

October 9, 2014
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Destination: Mars

The problems of poverty and disease may take care of themselves sooner or later, according to SpaceX founder Elon Musk.  But that will be because of nature’s “carelessly terrifying violence”, not for anything we do.

He says we have all our eggs in one basket–we live on only one planet and that’s not a good thing.  It’s a terrible risk management strategy. That makes space exploration as important as any poverty program because it will get some of us off Earth where we can survive if anything happens to the home planet.

Nature can be extremely violent.  We haven’t experienced its full violence yet because we’ve only existed for a very short time in cosmic history.  In that sense, an extinction level event would solve all our problems, but there wouldn’t be any of us left to celebrate.

Musk thinks there may be a whole lot of dead, one planet civilizations in our galaxy alone which ought to be teeming with life. He offers this as one explanation for why we haven’t discovered any intelligent life so far.  Violent cosmic events such as gamma ray bursts, asteroid strikes, extreme volcanism, or species suicide events may keep civilizations from developing much beyond the stages we are at now.

Musk says he doesn’t intend to stop with just developing vehicles to get people to the international space station.   His intention is to found a colony on Mars.  His Mars One plan will send the first humans to Mars.  Over 200,000 people have applied for the one way tickets so far.

Before we can live even semi-comfortable lives on other planets or moons, more advances in science and technology will need to take place.  We will need the ability  to terra-form Mars, to hollow out asteroids, to protect space farers from dangerous radiation, and to provide unlimited 100 per cent reliable power supplies for electricity, heating, and oxygenating whatever environment we choose to live in.  There is water on Mars, which can be used for providing  fuel as well as drinking, but it may be difficult to get at in any easy abundance.

The Martian by Andy Weir–Read it

March 21, 2014
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So you are a member of the third and biggest expedition to Mars, but something goes wrong.  There is a massive sandstorm and, as you try to get to the MAV (Mars Ascent Vehicle) before it tilts too far to take-off, the main communications antenna comes loose from the Hab and punctures your suit.  Air leaks out and your vital signs plunge.

The other crew members think you are dead and leave the planet in their MAV.  You are left behind with no hope of rescue for over 4 years.  How do you survive?  Andy Weir shows in exquisite detail how that might be possible, assuming you have dual degrees in mechanical engineering and botany, in a fascinating novel called The Martian. 

Mark Watney doesn’t die as his companions thought because the piece of antenna that punctured his garment,combined with frozen blood from the wound seals his pressure  suit until he regains consiousness and can apply a more permanent seal.  But by that time the MAV is gone and Mark is left to figure out how to survive in the real-life hostile environment of the planet Mars.  The things he does are realistic, ingenious and point to ways that lots of people could survive indefinitely on the red planet.  This book is available from Amazon and well worth the read if you are at all interested in space exploration or colonizing Mars.

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